Do you know that more than 50% of social media managers and content marketers like to schedule content 1 month in advance? They have a content marketing calendar in place to help streamline the process. This is essential regardless of who you are – an in-house content marketer or a freelancer.
However, it can be cumbersome to create a content marketing calendar from scratch and would consume a major chunk of your time.
Does that mean you have to skip creating one altogether?
To help you out, we’ll show you how you can set up a calendar and provide you with the tools that help speed up the process. To top it all, we have the top best practices that have been helpful to most content marketers. So, read this post till the end!
But first, let’s understand the basics.
Table of Contents
- What is a content marketing calendar?
- Why do you need a content marketing calendar?
- How to set up your content marketing calendar?
- How far in advance should you be planning your content?
- Who Uses the Content Marketing Calendar?
- Content Calendar Types & Tools
- Top tools for managing content marketing calendars
- Best Content Calendar Practices
- Content Marketing Calendar Templates
What Is A Content Marketing Calendar?
A content marketing calendar or an editorial calendar has a record of your upcoming content and where you want to publish it. Basically, it is a hub that lets you plan, organize, and schedule content. With a well-designed calendar, there is a consistent flow of content and marketers depend on it to outline their campaigns. Making it an important part of the content marketing process.
Why Do You Need A Content Marketing Calendar?
You need a content marketing calendar because it helps you with the following,
1. Be More organized – Is there too much back and forth with your team to get project updates? Inefficient planning is not going to help you reap benefits. There is no doubt that if you create plans actively, you can be more successful as a marketer. With a content marketing strategy, you get a bird’s eye view of the entire marketing plan, which helps you spot the loopholes well in advance and not miss deadlines.
2. Save Time – Once you plan your content in advance, it can help you save a lot of time. You would know that the content is ready, and this way you will have more time to focus on marketing activities that require your immediate attention.
3. Reduce Stress & Errors – Just imagine what would happen if you had to run around to get content in place at the last moment! It will only add fuel to your stress and wreck your productivity. That’s where a content calendar helps. You won’t forget scheduling posts that can help you stay relaxed and make your life easier.
4. Increase Consistency – When you talk about content marketing, you know that you have to be consistent. Your posts should appear regularly if you really want to keep your target audience engaged. Lack of consistency can certainly hamper the growth of your audience, leaving you out in the cold. With a blog or social media content calendar, you can keep a tab on the schedule and make sure there are posts in the pipeline.
5. Make the most of Holidays, Events, & Trends – When you create a content calendar, it is highly likely that you can make effective content plans for specific dates. Similarly, you can make the most of the latest trends and events.
Do read our content marketing guide.
How To Set Up Your Content Marketing Calendar?
1. Choose a format
There is no right or wrong way of creating an editorial calendar. However, choosing a format that meets your team’s needs can go a long way in achieving your goals.
As you saw above, you can choose any format and pick a tool accordingly.
2. Add visual elements to avoid confusion
As many team members view the editorial calendar, you have to make sure that you differentiate the channels where you are going to publish content using color coordination. This minimizes confusion and reduces the chances of an error.
3. Be consistent
If you post your content pieces on a chosen platform consistently, you can witness an exponential rise in engagement. You give your target audience a reason to return to the social media platform, and as a result the platform gives your profile more visibility. That is why being consistent is essential.
4. Observe the posting frequency of competitors
It is better to observe what your competitors are doing and know what is helping them succeed. Though copying someone is a strict no-no, you can always take the legit route of seeking inspiration.
5. Tweak your editorial calendar regularly
There is a fixed route to success which is why you can always use trial-and-error to figure out what is working for you. Find out what is ideal and tweak your content calendar accordingly.
How Far In Advance Should You Be Planning Your Content?
While now you know that you have to plan your content in advance, the next question that arises is – how far in advance? Is it for a month like you read in the beginning of the post? Maybe 2 months? The final decision depends on the following factors –
- Number of employees – When you have more people on the floor, you can plan up to one business quarter ahead.
- Media channels – Creating a video takes longer than writing a blog which is why you have to consider the channel you are publishing on. Just ensure that your team has enough time.
- Post Frequency – If you post too frequently, it can be difficult to plan it in advance, but you have to stay well ahead of schedule.
- Industry change – Constant changes in your industry can make it difficult for you to plan in advance. This is mostly the case with new industries. On the contrary, if you are in an established industry, you can plan ahead easily.
So, the bottom line here is that you have to plan as far in advance as possible. Check out our top content marketing tips.
Who Uses the Content Marketing Calendar?
Almost every team member would want to use the calendar, but it is essential to define who is responsible for updating it. All the stakeholders and the higher management of the company must have access to the calendar so that they can stay in the know at all times. If each team member knows their role with regard to the content marketing calendar, there is less confusion, and the process runs smoothly.
Content Calendar Types & Tools
Let’s explore the different ways of planning your content in a content calendar,
One easy way of creating a calendar is using a spreadsheet. You have Google Sheets and MS Excel to create your content calendar without any investment. It is really simple to create it this way and makes it easy for you to look at the progress made.
2. Kanban boards
With Kanban boards, you can visualize the workflow, which is why they work well for content calendars. You can use tools like Trello, CoSchedule or Nifty to create various columns depicting stages and track the progress of each content piece. These software platforms are exclusively meant for content management & are quite helpful for busy marketing teams.
Top tools for managing content marketing calendars
Regardless of how extensive your content workflow process is, Trello is just the tool you need to create your calendar of content marketing. It lets you assign tasks, keep track of the progress made and do a lot more seamlessly from one place. In addition, it helps you work collaboratively with other team members, thereby, reducing the back and forth significantly.
Pricing – The paid plan costs $25 per month
CoSchedule is a WordPress plugin that is widely popular among marketers. With its marketing calendar, you can easily schedule and glance at your marketing activities. It is quite helpful in bringing the higher management in the loop as well. It makes planning social campaigns super-easy while reducing the time taken to coordinate with the team.
Pricing – The paid plan costs $29 per user per month
Loomly is a platform that doesn’t restrict itself to content scheduling and management. It even offers a role in creating content. Majorly, it lets you manage content pieces, schedule them, view them in a calendar format and even goes to the extent of gauging their performance and finding out the ones that need improvement. The best feature of this platform is that it is suitable for larger teams that need to work collaboratively.
Pricing – The Base plan costs $26 per month for 2 users.
The emphasis on teamwork makes Asana outshine the crowd of content calendar tools. The interface, however, is slightly different from the rest of the tools and may take a while for users to get accustomed to it. Overall, the tool is handy as it lets you switch between different views such as list, calendar and timeline.
Pricing – The Premium plan starts at $10.99 (billed annually)
Kapost is the platform for planning, creating, performing and analyzing content that every content manager needs. You can use it to assign tasks, manage the content team, see the status of tasks. While this tool is useful, it doesn’t have advanced features for scheduling.
Pricing – The price is not publicly available. You have to request a quote.
6. WordPress editorial calendar
This is a WordPress plugin that helps you manage content in a more streamlined way. It lets you see the status of posts, and update them. By all means, this is an essential tool for those who handle a large content team. The most striking part is its interface, which lets you move things around with a simple drag-and-drop action.
Airtable is a tool for content management that is ideal for both individuals and agencies. As the features of the free plan are limited, you have to purchase the paid plan to enjoy its advanced features. Another feature worth mentioning is its easy integration with other apps. Overall, you can call it a great content management tool.
Pricing – The paid plan starts at $10 per month per seat.
StoryChief is a great tool for content planning and distribution. It has a smart calendar that helps build better strategies and facilitates better content planning. It helps publish content across several channels and provides analytics to gauge performance. You can integrate it with other tools as well and amplify its performance.
Pricing – The paid plan starts at $90 per month when billed annually.
Best Content Calendar Practices
Here are some of the practices worth following to make the most of your content calendar.
1. Know the key elements a content calendar should have
Look for the following in your calendar
- Content pieces you are publishing along with the date and time so that you have an organized process with zero errors.
- The person responsible for a particular action.
- Your content promotion plans. Try differentiating them with color-coding.
- Upcoming content ideas that you jotted down randomly
2. Use a tool to manage your calendar
The tool that hosts your content calendar is important. It has to suit your needs, especially when you have a large B2B content marketing team.
3. Go beyond just publishing new posts
Along with scheduling fresh content, you can work on updating your content pieces, such as blogs from time to time. Mention when a piece needs updating in your calendar so that you don’t miss out on it. Also, perform content audits to remove stale content so that there is an increase in traffic to your blog. Try our free blog post generator to create converting blog posts.
Content Marketing Calendar Templates
Here are a few free content calendar templates to organize your blog post publishing and social media content posting,
Content Marketing Calendar 1
Here’s a simple content marketing calendar that has your social media posting schedule, blog publishing schedule, and the date of YouTube videos and podcasts going live. This is quite helpful in organizing your tasks and reduces errors.
Content Marketing Calendar 2
This editorial calendar is a step ahead of the previous one as it provides the details of social media posts, blog posts, and videos going live. Any team member can grasp the plan, thereby helping increase coordination.
Content Marketing Calendar 3
In the above content calendar you can find when your YouTube videos and blog posts are going live. It is a quite simple way of tracking the schedule and planning ahead.
Content Marketing Calendar 4
In this editorial calendar, you can create your blog publishing plan and take a look at the whole month and the upcoming one from one place. It is possible to alter this as per your needs and add more columns to it.
Content Marketing Calendar 5
This template has details such as the deadline, status, and task details. It can work well for teams that work collaboratively, and it helps minimize back-and-forth emails and meetings to streamline the workflow.
Download all the 5 content marketing calendar templates now!
On your mark, get set, go! Build your very own content marketing calendar
Having an editorial calendar can go a long way in helping you stay organized and never miss a deadline. After all, that is your aim as a content marketer who wants to win the content game.
You can use our inputs and build your own calendar that helps streamline your workflow.
Get ready to increase your productivity with the content calendar tools we just saw above that can make the life of any content marketer easier. You can thank us once you start seeing traffic coming your way and witness an increase in brand awareness! It is immensely important for effective content marketing.
Do read about types of content marketing formats.
A content calendar helps you plan and schedule the publishing and promotion of posts on various marketing channels. With a well-organized calendar, you can never miss a deadline and plan several steps ahead.
Ideally, a content calendar should have upcoming content pieces that will go live on various marketing channels, content promotion plan, and when you will update published content.
You need a content calendar to plan monthly content effectively. First, know your objective, choose the content publishing channels for your blogs, videos, podcasts, and their plan frequency.